This lightweight whodunit stays puzzling through trickery. Brian Bain just wants to stay out of trouble for a little while, for since his last adventure in the chemistry lab he’s been grounded. However, when a fellow student is kidnapped, Brian teams up with student journalist Roni to solve the mystery. Alicia, the kidnapped girl, was the victim of a brutal mugging the week before—could her disappearance be connected to the beating? Brian and Roni investigate ex-boyfriends, absent-minded adults and an island full of frightening but entertaining squatters. A reader who can see through the mystery’s misdirection might solve the puzzle before Brian and Roni. A frustratingly casual treatment of child abuse mars this venture, however; a woman who’s known to be responsible for a child’s vicious beating strikes that child in front of the police and is not immediately restrained or ever arrested. If the story contained any condemnation of this behavior, perhaps it wouldn’t be so jarring, but the characters seem more willing to condemn potential male abusers than actual female ones. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 18, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24377-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Sleuth/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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Despite her attempts to lead a normal life filled with shopping trips and dates with her hunky boyfriend, middle schooler Sherry Holmes Baldwin finds herself thrust back into the role of supernatural sleuth. In this sequel to I So Don’t Do Mysteries (2008), Sherry and her best friend, Junie, take on the serious task of unmasking an individual who is stalking Sherry’s stepmother. Similar to the previous text, Sherry’s deceased mom and grandfather lend support from beyond the grave, a device that, through humor and a thorough setup, manages to be more believable than creepy. In addition to wanting to protect her stepmother, Sherry is determined to crack this mystery for a chance to be awarded five minutes of “Real Time” with her deceased mother. Perfectly tame for middle schoolers—Sherry’s dates never pass PG, and although the threat of the stalker is at times menacing, Sherry’s silly, over-the-top inner dialogue helps defuse the situation and provide comic relief. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-73604-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2009

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In the wake of a destructive dustup with ghosts in the surprisingly rich rare-book room of their suburban public library,...



From the Ghosts of Rockville series , Vol. 1

Young ghost hunters barely start their search for a magical artifact in this fragmentary series opener.

In the wake of a destructive dustup with ghosts in the surprisingly rich rare-book room of their suburban public library, classmates Jay, Pam, Danni and Brian find themselves in a race with shadowy but plainly evil opponents. Their mutual goal is to track down a crystal that can summon and control the spirits of the dead. First, though, they have to secure a certain Key by puzzling out cryptic rhymes that lead in apparently arbitrary fashion to grave markers, nearby crop circles and a local medium. A climactic spectral attack adds a bit of drama, though it leaves the quartet at the end no closer to the Key—much less the sub-titular glass. Along with page images of stodgy background from an “Encyclopedia of the Paranormal” (evidently a fictional one, not to be confused with the two actual reference sources bearing that title), some illustrations look blank until a small, included (and easily lost) square of lenticular plastic is laid over to reveal hidden messages or pictures.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-934734-48-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Seven Footer Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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